Many moons ago, I had a career. A pretty cool career. I was a TV Producer in New York City.
I knew early on that I wanted to work in some aspect of TV. Then I took a television production course in college, and I was convinced.
So after college, I fought my way into the very tough-to-break-into business of TV. I spent many years scratching my way up to a pretty impressive position. I worked on several national TV shows… 15 years in all.
I won’t lie, working in the television industry is fun, but tough. You spend your life dedicated to whichever show you are on at the moment. Late nights and odd hours are expected. 100% dedication is expected. If you say no, there are a hundred other recent college grads who will say yes.
Often, I stayed at work all night editing a show that needed to air the next morning, sleeping for a couple of hours and heading right back into work. A job in TV production creates a tough lifestyle. But I was in my 20’s and 30’s and I loved it. Okay, most days I loved it. Some days I wondered why I was punishing myself.
Why? Well, the simple answer was the perks. There were awesome perks. Like meeting celebrities. I met some legends, some idiots, and some of my childhood crushes. That part was amazing. Some celebrities would hang out with the production crew after the tapings. Some were rude. It was always interesting to see who was nice, and who wasn’t. And who came in completely drunk – – more than you’d guess did!
I worked at 30 Rock for a couple of years. That’s the iconic building in Rockefeller Center in New York City, where shows like The Today Show, Saturday Night Live, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon, and many more are produced.
I ate lunch in the NBC Commissary with Tracy Morgan sitting next to me. I sat in the empty audience of Studio 8H and watched Robert DeNiro rehearse for SNL. I was ‘this close’ to yelling to him – “You talkin’ to me?”. I remember having chills that day, knowing how monumental it was that I was able to see him behind the scenes.
It was definitely better than many other jobs. And it made the crazy hours seem more worthwhile.
Besides the celebrities, I got tickets to events, concerts, Broadway shows, movie premieres, and more. We worked hard, but we took advantage of the fun stuff too.
As you can imagine, that lifestyle is fine if you are young, single, and not a mom. I realized quickly when I got pregnant, that it would be hard to maintain my TV career with kids. I actually hid my pregnant belly until I was 6 months along with my first baby because I was working for a fashion TV show, and I knew they wouldn’t keep me on if they thought I was having a baby.
So when my first baby was born, my husband and I made the decision for me to quit TV and stay home and raise our kids. It was time for me to get out of the rat-race of TV and be there for my daughter.
To the outsider, that might have seemed like an easy choice. But for someone who had spent many years eating, sleeping, and breathing her career, it was a shock to my system at first. It may appear like, “Hey, awesome – I get to stay home in my pajamas all day. Shower when I feel like it. Eat whenever I want. Freedom”.
Except I was not home alone. I was a new mom. So I was home with an infant. 24 hours a day. As every new mom knows, that is not freedom. It’s the opposite. It was tough. I couldn’t do anything when I wanted. Not eat, sleep, or poop when I wanted.
I also desperately missed interacting with other adults. Work is very social, and I lost that completely. I went from having a fun job to being home alone with a baby, sometimes for weeks without talking to another adult. It was a huge change.
My husband’s career got busier around the same time, so I was alone most of the time. While I was struggling with this adjustment, I needed support, but didn’t get much. My husband said he was happy knowing I was the one raising our daughter – – we had made that choice together. But everyday turned into a competition about who worked harder. He had no clue how mentally and physically challenging taking care of a baby could be.
I breastfed exclusively too, so I was the one who got up for every night feeding. Most days I was loopy from lack-of-sleep. But he often told me how easy I had it, compared to him having to go to work.
It made my struggle with the adjustment, even harder. It made the road very bumpy. I felt isolated, lonely and completely unappreciated. There was a point when I really wished I would’ve gone back to work. But we had agreed the best thing for our baby was to have her mommy raise her, not a stranger. Looking back, I am so glad I did. It has been the best thing for my kids, having me home.
For my marriage and my self-esteem, not so much. The lack of respect, understanding, and empathy I got, about how tough being home with a baby, and later a baby and a toddler, was hard for me.
To be honest, it still is.
It’s not only husbands who don’t understand. The general public for instance. There are many people out there who joke about SAHM’s getting mani-pedis and eating bonbons all day long. Uh, I wish! Several of my former co-workers still tease me and say they know that’s what I do all day.
There is also the never-ending competition between working moms and stay-at-home-moms, about whose life is harder. I think that is so unfair. Simply being a mom is hard. Working moms have other people helping them with their kids while they are at work… daycare, nanny, etc. Meals are fed, diapers are changed, children are played with. Stay-at-home-moms do it alone, without a break. But yes, they don’t have to go to work and miss their kids all day.
Guess what? Whatever moms choose to do, it’s HARD!
So moms, let’s give each other a break. And dads, please respect your wives. And people, let’s give ALL moms lots of support and praise. Whichever path a mom takes, trust me, each and every mom has a very hard job!
I had no idea that leaving my career and becoming a stay-at-home mom, would be such a bumpy road.
But would I do it differently? No. Not for a minute. I love it. (It’s taken several years for me to say that though!)